About us

The Community Help and Advice Initiative Ltd (CHAI) is a company registered in Scotland, Registration No. 179306, and is a recognised Scottish Charity No. SC. 027594.

We support people living across Edinburgh and the Lothians.

Our Aims and Objectives 

CHAI’s aims and objectives are:

  • To relieve poverty
  • To provide social welfare assistance
  • To provide practical help
  • To provide information, advice and support

Our History

Historic canalCHAI was formed in 1997 as part of a planned amalgamation of a number of small urban programme funded projects then operating in the Wester Hailes area of Edinburgh, and delivering a range of social welfare services (including advice, support for the elderly and vulnerable, and support for families and young tenants).
Wester Hailes had been one of the four areas in Scotland selected in 1989 to become ‘New Life for Urban Scotland’ Partnerships (the others being Castlemilk in Glasgow, Ferguslie Park in Paisley and Whitfield in Dundee).  The ‘New Life’ Partnerships were innovative 10 year programmes aimed at regenerating areas designated as being multiply deprived -involving local authorities, central government, health boards, the local communities and various other key stakeholders in partnership approaches to local regeneration activity.

By 1997 the Wester Hailes Partnership was entering its final stages. The Urban Programme resources that had been dedicated to the area were subject to significant reduction – resulting in a community led restructuring process that concentrated the remaining resources into a small number of specific service delivery ‘agencies’ focused on issues such as community development, health, childcare, employability, youth issues and arts based education. CHAI was established as the local social welfare agency, with a focus on alleviating poverty and disadvantage.

Since these early, localised, beginnings CHAI has gone on to grow and develop in response to the needs being presented by the communities in which it operates and now provides a range of advice, support and development services on a local and City wide basis – most recently extending those services into Midlothian too.

For those interested in the history of the community in which CHAI grew up, there is an interesting and informative blog here:

‘From There to Here: the social history of Wester Hailes’